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For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by Him. We are no longer Jews or Gentiles, or slaves or free men, or even merely men or women, but we are all the same – we are Christians; we are one in Jesus Christ!
– Galatians 3:26–28 (LB)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?
The most basic questions a person can ask are, “What is the meaning of my life?” and “Why am I here?”
Everyone wants to be happy. People try many ways:
• Some look for happiness by acquiring possessions.
• Some look for happiness by experiencing pleasure.
• Some look for happiness by gaining power – prestige.
But real happiness comes from understanding my purpose – why I am here.
I. WHY AM I HERE?
1. God made me to love me!
Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be His through our union with Christ … because of His love. God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children – this was God’s pleasure and purpose. – Eph. 1:4-5 (GN)
2. We were created to enjoy a personal relationship with God and to manage all of the rest of God’s creation! This makes us special!
So God created human beings, making them in His image. He blessed them, and said, “live all over the earth and bring it under control. I am putting you in charge.” – Gen. 1:27-28 (LB)
Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness!” – John 10:10 (GN)
3. God’s purposes for our lives.
1) Connect with God in a personal relationship.
2) Become more like Jesus everyday.
3) Serve God and bring glory to Him.
4) Connect with others in meaningful relationships.
5) Make a difference in the lives of others.
4. When we know and love God, and live in harmony with His purpose for our lives, it produces tremendous benefits in our lives:
Life & Peace
Help in Weaknesses
Power & Strength
John 8: 32, 36
This is the kind of lifestyle God intends for us to live. Why then aren’t most people really happy?
II. THE PROBLEM?
1. It’s all about control.
• Our natural desire is to choose to do life our own way and to ignore God, His directives, purposes and blueprints for the way we should live our lives. The Bible calls this attitude sin.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. -Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. -1 John 1:8 (NLT)
2. Sin builds a barrier and creates a gap in our relationship with God.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23 (NIV)
3. It has impact in this life.
When you don’t follow God’s directives, design and purpose there are “ripple effects” in other areas of your life: family, relational, vocational, emotional , financial.
4. It impacts the life to come.
If the gap exists when we die, we will spend all eternity apart from God.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23
5. Even though we have a desire to connect with God, we try to do it our way instead of God’s way.
• Doing good deeds.
• Living a morally right life.
• Going to church and doing other religious activities.
• Bargaining with God.
But you can’t get across the gap by your own effort.
III. GOD’S SOLUTION
1. God came to earth as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ, to bridge the gap between us and God.
Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me!” – John 14:6
2. Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross. The cross has bridged the gap. God has done his part to restore the relationship.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
IV. WHAT DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO?
1. Admit that God has not been first place in your life and ask Him to forgive your sins.
If we confess our sins to him, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. – 1 John 1:9 (LB)
2. Believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins and that He rose again on Easter, and is alive today.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] by which we must be saved.
– Acts 4:12
3. Accept God’s free gift of salvation. Don’t try to earn it.
For it is by grace you are saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
Our relationship to God is not restored by anything we do, but on the basis of what Jesus already did for us!
4. Invite Jesus Christ to come into your life and be the Director (Lord) of your life.
To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust Him to save them. All those who believe this are reborn! — not a physical rebirth…but from the will of God! – John 1:12-13 (LB)
You can take these steps by praying a simple prayer of commitment to God:
Dear Jesus, thank you for making me and loving me, even when I’ve ignored you and gone my own way. I realize I need you in my life and I’m sorry for the wrong things I have done, said and thought. I ask you to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. As much as I know how, I want to follow you from now on. Please come into my life and make me a new person inside. I accept your gift of forgiveness. Please help me to grow in my relationship with you.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Romans 10:13
THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM
I. WHAT ARE THE VIEWS ON BAPTISM?
A. INFANT BAPTISM
Often called paedo-baptism; infant baptism; or household baptism, it is a symbol demonstrating the faith of the head of the Christian family. It is done by sprinkling.
1. It is seen as the continuation of the Old Testament Covenant.
Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. – Acts 7:8
2. It is the evidence of the faith of the family (Mom and Dad).
The jailer took [Paul and Silas] and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. – Acts 16:33
Infant baptism does not save a child. Only personal faith in Jesus Christ can do that. Rather, it is viewed as the dedication of the parents to raise the child in a Christian environment to help them grow in faith and develop their own personal relationship with Jesus.
B. FOLLOWERS’ BAPTISM
Often called water baptism; believer’s baptism; or baptism by immersion, it illustrates the union of a believer with Christ in His death and resurrection. It is accomplished by the total immersion of the individual under the water.
1. It follows the example set by Jesus.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John in the [river]. – Mark 1:9
2. It demonstrates that I am a follower of Jesus.
Many of the people who heard him believed and were baptized. – Acts 18:8
3. It illustrates Christ’s death and resurrection.
Christ died for our sins he was buried and he rose again. – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ. – Colossians 2:12
4. It illustrates my new life as a Christian.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! -2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Believers’ baptism doesn’t make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you – only faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it is the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart.
II. WHAT IS THE POSITION OF LAKESIDE ON BAPTISM?
1. It is an issue that will not divide us.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3
2. Being baptized is an act of obedience. Therefore if you have not been baptized as a follower of Jesus but only as an infant we encourage you to be re-baptized.
Those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized. – Acts 2:41 (Amp)
Jesus said, “Go then, to all people everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20 (GN)
3. If you have come through a time of doubt or questioning your faith you may wish to be re-baptized as an outward act of your new inward commitment.
But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. – Acts 8:12 (NLT)
4. Infant baptisms.
It is our practice at Lakeside to do infant dedications. The parents commit to raise their child in such a way they know who Jesus is and have opportunities to develop a personal relationship with him as their Lord and Saviour. If a parent requests infant baptism – often because of a certain faith heritage, we are happy to do so in a private service.
Then they told him and all his household the Good News from the Lord. That same hour he and all his family were baptized. – Acts 16:32-33 (LB)
8. Followers’ baptisms are public.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. – Acts 2:41
They are done by full immersion as part of a worship gathering on Sunday mornings a few times during the year. You can request to be baptized and will have the opportunity to share your faith story as part of this process.
Steps for baptism:
1) Request to be baptized
2) One-on-one sharing time with a Pastor
3) Sharing our faith journey with the greater Lakeside community when you are baptized (often done by video)
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNION
Jesus never asked His disciples to remember His birth. But He did instruct them to remember His death and resurrection. He gave the church two visible symbols (called ordinances) as reminders of His death. These two ordinances are: Baptism and Communion. The Lord’s Supper is an object lesson that represents a great spiritual truth for believers.
I. WHAT IS COMMUNION?
1. It is a reminder of what Jesus did.
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (NLT)
2. It is a symbol.
In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” – 1 Corinthians 11:25 (NLT)
3. It is a statement of faith.
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. – 1 Corinthians 11:26 (NLT)
II. WHO SHOULD TAKE COMMUNION?
Only those who are already followers of Jesus.
III. HOW DO I PREPARE MYSELF TO TAKE COMMUNION?
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A person ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
1. Self-Examination. – 1 Corinthians 11:27
2. Confessing my sins. – 1 John 1:9
3. Recommitment. – Romans 12:1
4. Restoring Relationships. – Matthew 5:23-24
IV. WHEN AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE OBSERVE COMMUNION?
Jesus never said when or how often followers should observe Communion, but it was the regular practice of the early Christians. One cannot conceive of the first-century followers getting together and not celebrating the Lord’s Supper, whether it was in someone’s home, or in a service.
We have Communion frequently. It is observed often in our Sunday morning gathering, because this is a time of worship. It may also be administered in our small groups.
We believe it is suitable for non-followers to be present, because it exists as a testimonial to our commitment to Christ.